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3 Reasons Ted and Robin Should Be Together in "How I Met Your Mother"

Jeremy enjoys reviewing cinema and television when not working as a chemist.

Robin and Ted in the first episode

Robin and Ted in the first episode

How I Met Your Mother's Controversial Ending

Major spoilers ahead.

HIMYM remains one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, masterfully blending humor with surprisingly dramatic and realistic relationships. While it managed to retain its quality throughout its nine-season run, the show's reputation is somewhat tarnished by one of the most disputed television endings of all time, one that builds up Barney and Robin's relationship only to have them unceremoniously split to allow Ted, after his wife's death, to again pursue Robin.

It's a bittersweet ending that rubbed many fans the wrong way. But today let's debate not the execution of the finale's ultimate Ted/Robin conclusion (I agree it could be improved), but whether the pairing itself makes sense—here are three reasons why Tobin actually makes sense in How I Met Your Mother!

Barney and Robin

Barney and Robin

1. Robin Doesn't Work With Barney

It's impossible to discuss Ted and Robin without mentioned her pairing with Barney, which in some ways the show seemed to be moving towards in its final seasons. After all, why should Ted and Robin get back together if she pairs better with Barney?

Thing is, Robin and Barney are very similar—too similar, and that creates friction. Remember that, just like Ted, Robin and Barney already failed in their first relationship, except unlike Ted (where the problem was Ted wanting to settle down with Robin not yet ready), B+R are both stubborn and independent, which inevitably leads to fighting. It's what split them up the first time, and (alongside Robin's demanding career) what ultimately shatters their marriage.

Basically, Robin and Barney only function in short bursts, where they admittedly have great chemistry (a testament to the acting skills of Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris). Before her wedding, Robin realizes how disturbingly similar Barney is to her emotionally unavailable father, and even discovers her mother's question of whether Robin has someone to count on is answered by not by Barney's presence in her life, but Ted's.

While Barney did mature in later seasons, he still had several flaws that contributed to the failed relationship, from his general selfishness (just look at his original vows), struggles with fidelity, and general immaturity.

Robin and Ted

Robin and Ted

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2. Robin Does Work With Ted

If you carefully dissect the seasons, you'll find bits of evidence laying the foundation for Ted/Robin, even when the show seemingly shuns their pairing. For instance, while Robin rejects Ted's final declaration of love in season 7, this was more knowing the timing was off than lack of feelings on her part. Remember that not far back, Robin went crazy enough to dig up her childhood locket when Ted and Stella got engaged, tried to convince Ted not to marry her, had Ted agree to marry Robin if both remained single at age 40, and ultimately picked similar-to-Ted nice guy Kevin over Barney, with that relationship ending on Kevin's decision, not Robin's. There's also Marshall's stubborn insistence of "not yet" paying Lily the bet money that Ted and Robin won't end up together, indicating he (correctly) believes they may still pair up eventually. Speaking of Lily, she specifically set out to break up Ted and Robin's first relationship, a fact that makes both wonder what could have been had she not meddled.

In essence, season-7 Robin rejects Ted because 1) she knows their settling down differences are still very much in place and 2) is notoriously bad at reciprocating feelings until she can no longer have the person in question (Barney gets her back with him by first pretending to reject her). But even at her own wedding to Barney, after seeing Ted's dedication towards finding her locket, she admits she should be marrying Ted.

Regarding successful relationships, Robin astutely notes you need both chemistry and timing; Tobin always had the former, but never the latter. That is, until the final episode, where the timing of Future Ted and Robin finally aligns—by then, Ted experienced his dream of settling down and raising kids with Tracy, while Robin got to focus on her career. But now that both are single and have accomplished their goals, they're finally ready to rekindle their spark (insert Robin Sparkles joke).

Ted and Tracy

Ted and Tracy

3. The Show's Theme of Moving On

Arguably the biggest morals and lessons of HIMYM are how to move on from failed (and occasionally successful) relationships. This is especially apparent from season 3 on, where we watch Ted, Robin, and Barney stumble through many romances, some good and some bad, but despite the heartaches, our protagonists manage to get back out there and enjoy life.

Also, Ted's final pairing with Robin echoes Tracy's with Ted. Remember, Tracy had a first love (Max, who we never saw on-screen) who died prematurely, and it took her many years to get over him, almost missing out on Ted because of her lingering hesitations. But just as Tracy moves past her former flame to love Ted (a pairing everyone agrees is amazing), Ted does the same with Robin, and with the fundamental issue of their past relationship no longer present (Ted has his kids while Robin got her career), they can presumably be just as happy. This is why I disagree with a common criticism that Ted and Robin "settled" for each other; they may have been settling in the past due to one having to sacrifice their dream, but by 2030 no such hazard persists. Ted had to let go of Robin to be ready for Tracy, and he had to let go of Tracy to be ready for Robin.

Plus, as viewers, we thought the point of the series was to build up and meet the mom, and it was great to finally see her excellent relationship with Ted. But in-universe, it makes sense that the true purpose was for Future Ted to explain to his kids just how much Robin has meant to him throughout the years, and with all his cards laid out, obtain their blessing to move on and effectively be happy again (remember six years have passed since his wife's death, so he certainly spent time grieving). Ted and Robin work well together, and while that doesn't fix all the issues of the finale or make the ending as happy as we want, it does make sense as a conclusion.

Robin in "How I Met Your Father"

Robin in "How I Met Your Father"

Robin Misses Ted (Deleted Scene)

Alternate Endings and HIMYF

While I believe the show subtly hinted at Ted and Robin throughout its run, I also agree that its final two episodes were sloppy and seeing more of Barney and Robin's issues would help make their break-up believable. I'm also surprised that some scenes got deleted, like the above talk between Ted and Robin that highlights just how much Robin misses Ted, a scene even Ted's actor (Josh Radnor) emphasized in an interview.

For what it's worth, disappointed fans can find solace in the alternate DVD ending (which keeps the mom alive and hints Barney and Robin may reconcile) and certain cameos in sequel show How I Met Your Father, which may lend more insight into the relationships. But for now, vote for your favorite pairing and I'll see you at our next cinematic review!

© 2022 Jeremy Gill

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